A book of inspired opinion certain to provoke spirited political debate and proactive discussions.

WE OWN THE FUTURE

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM―AMERICAN STYLE

A collection of unique perspectives on democratic socialism.

Aronoff (co-author: A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal, 2019), Dreier (Politics/Occidental Coll.; The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, 2012, etc.) and Kazin (History/Georgetown Univ.; War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918, 2017, etc.) deliver a chorus of intellectual voices who describe their vision for democratic socialism systems in the U.S. as well as assessments of inevitable roadblocks. The editors’ introductory essays offer a crash course in the history of the socialist movement, particularly its incremental resurgence from the federal programs of the 1930s through the social activist movements of the 21st century. As they warn, the mechanics of socialism in other countries offer lessons but not necessarily blueprints. They also address how the “hidden rules of race and racism” must first be overcome before any kind of economic justice can be realized. Each piece is thoughtful and regimented and includes a usable plan of action. Economist Darrick Hamilton hypothesizes a three-part playbook of policies to remediate our unjust financial system while historian Thomas Sugrue proposes a restructuring of the housing and transit markets to create more livable urban and rural spaces. Naomi Klein discusses how enacting the Green New Deal would prioritize and confront the issue of climate change head-on. Social justice advocate Dorothy Roberts addresses the comprehensive impact of universal health care, and journalist Michelle Chen examines the advantages of open borders. The contributors also survey education, sports, election systems, reproductive justice, and the arts. Sensible and convincing, the book takes on the country’s current “troubled plutocracy” and proposes ways “to build a kinder, more humane, and altogether freer society.” Even for those not inclined to agree with its core objective, the book challenges and motivates readers to act and appeal for “daunting but not impossible” changes.

A book of inspired opinion certain to provoke spirited political debate and proactive discussions.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62-097521-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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